Peaceful settlement in Kashmir not hopeless

For more than 50 years, India and Pakistan have fought over the Kashmir region. The recent demonstrations of nuclear capabilities by both sides further complicate the situation. India and Pakistan should resolve the dispute immediately to avoid the possibility of any use of nuclear weapons.
The conflict began in 1947. After gaining independence from the United Kingdom, Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India were created, with the predominantly Muslim region of Kashmir placed under Indian control. Fighting broke out quickly and has remained a sporadic constant in the region. An early partition and peace settlement established regions of control in Kashmir. However, the terms were ambiguous, and the precise border remains a point of contention.
Despite their protestations, both nations are guilty of prolonging tensions. It is commonly believed in the international community that several hundred Islamic “freedom fighters” receive financial and military assistance from Pakistan. Although Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif denies a connection between his government and the rebels, the arsenals the rebels wield indicate some involvement. Sharif’s protests might be founded in government support that is occurring without his knowledge, but that there is some connection is almost certain. India is justified in its complaints.
Yet India itself is not without blame. Indian war planes have been flying over Pakistani-controlled lands in recent weeks. Moreover, India has proven reluctant to participate in constructive discussions concerning Kashmir’s fate. Pakistan has consistently offered the United Nations and other third parties an opportunity to mediate peace discussions, but India has refused. One suspected reason is that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is vulnerable in upcoming elections and has been cultivating a reputation as aggressive defenders of Indian territory and proprietors of nuclear bomb testing.
The nuclear tests last year and the missile testing last month by India and Pakistan must not be used as threats that substitute for a peaceful, diplomatic solution. Both nations have proven their dissatisfaction with the current situation, but to threaten nuclear retaliation is irresponsible, dangerous saber-rattling. The increased tension that has resulted from recent events increases the possibility of an explosive turn for the worse. It is imperative that a diplomatic solution be reached.
On Monday, Vajpayee finally agreed to hold talks regarding Kashmir with the Pakistani government. Although both nations are mutually distrustful, the fate of Kashmir must be decided. Pakistan and India must re-evaluate the original partition agreement, as Kashmir cannot remain a divided state with latent unrest.
Although Kashmir was divided more than fifty years ago, India and Pakistan must find a specific, mutually agreeable settlement immediately. Within the past year, both nations have revived nuclear weapons testing, creating a very dangerous situation. At the end of the 20th century, nations should be more civilized in resolving disputes.